Paul Jacob

“Life,” my parents often told me, “isn’t fair.” But President Barack Obama isn't so negative: yes it can be fair.

“We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by,” our president informed the nation last week, in his annual State of the Union address, “or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.”

The implications of such fairness are immense.

And make no mistake about the meaning of President Obama’s pronouncement for real change. The president went further, promising, “No bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts. An America built to last insists on responsibility from everybody.”

Did you hear that? Surely, it’s not just a slogan. You can take that to your closest bailed-out bank!

So, what must the president’s diagnosis of our current State of the Union really mean? And what must be his proposed treatments?

For starters, Obama clearly says, “we need to change our tax code so that people like [him], and an awful lot of members of Congress, pay [their] fair share of taxes.”

Hear! Hear! Isn’t it high time that, as the president asks, a billionaire must “pay at least as much as his secretary in taxes?”

Obama calls this “the Buffett Rule” after Warren Buffett, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. The rule isn’t about collecting the $1 billion in back taxes owed by Buffett’s company — no doubt that check is in the mail, or will be after another decade of litigation with the IRS.

The Buffett Rule is simple: “If you make more than $1 million a year, you should not pay less than 30 percent in taxes.” And because we’re talking about fairness here, ladies and gentlemen, the rate must be 30 percent for everyone — just like secretaries, who apparently pay extraordinarily-high tax rates.

We’re all in this together, after all. And we certainly “don’t begrudge financial success in this country,” the POTUS told us. “We admire it.”

And fair is fair.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.